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Wednesday December 8th

Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks sign with NBA teams after draft

<p>Senior forwards Isaiah Hicks (left) and Kennedy Meeks (right) signed with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Toronto Raptors, respectively.</p>
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Senior forwards Isaiah Hicks (left) and Kennedy Meeks (right) signed with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Toronto Raptors, respectively.

North Carolina senior forwards Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks will have a chance to continue their careers at the next level after being passed on in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.

Hicks will sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, as first reported by David Aldridge of TNT, and Meeks will sign with the Toronto Raptors, as first reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical.

Hicks, a 6-foot-9 native of Oxford, N.C., started 39 games for UNC this season. He averaged 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He also led the Tar Heels in field-goal percentage, making 57.6 percent of his shots. Hicks had 13 points and nine rebounds in North Carolina’s national-championship win over Gonzaga.

After looking lost at the small-forward position as a first-year, Hicks settled into his role as a high-energy big man and ended up scoring 1,112 points in his UNC career. He was one of twelve Tar Heels to play in two national-championship games.

In Los Angeles, Hicks will join two more former Tar Heels in old teammate Brice Johnson, a first-round draft pick of the Clippers last year, and Raymond Felton. The Clippers are deep in the frontcourt with all-stars Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and contributors Marreese Speights and Brandon Bass. Hicks will be hard-pressed for playing time.

Meeks was UNC’s third-leading scorer this year at 12.5 points per game and was the only Tar Heel to play in and start all 40 games this season. He just missed a double-double, averaging 9.5 rebounds per game, and shot 55.5 percent from the floor.

He ended his UNC career with 1,482 points, 1,052 rebounds (fifth in UNC history) and 154 blocks. Meeks had the game of his life against Oregon in the Final Four with 25 points on 11-13 shooting, and his title-game block on Nigel Williams-Goss landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The 6-foot-10 forward returned home to Charlotte in late May, where he was honored at his former high school and had his jersey retired.

Toronto has two established starters down low in 7-footer Jonas Valanciunas and stretch four Serge Ibaka. Backups include Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira, all relatively unproven — but very young — bigs. If Meeks wants to see the floor, those three will be his competition. He looks more than ready to go to work, though, after not hearing his name called last night.

With Hicks and Meeks’ signings, UNC has now produced four NBA players from its championship team. In last night’s draft, the Sacramento Kings selected Justin Jackson at No. 15, and the Utah Jazz chose Tony Bradley at No. 28. Senior guard Nate Britt II remains unsigned.

Update: Britt will play on the Atlanta Hawks' summer-league team, per Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on June 24. Britt was one of 12 Tar Heels to play in two national championships and scored 774 points in his UNC career.

@chapelfowler

sports@dailytarheel.com

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